April 1, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 13


Make Every Day Music Monday


Music is a powerful learning tool, especially for young children, and nobody knows that better than early childhood educators. Music Monday kicks off the Week of the Young Child  (April 2-8), an annual celebration of early education programs sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


Former NIEER researcher Shannon Riley Ayers, Grammy Award-winning musician Coy Bowles and early education professional Meghan Tavormina explored the value of singing and dancing in early childhood classrooms in a post published this week on NIEER’s Preschool Matters Today blog. They noted that nearly 70 percent of preschool teachers used music in their classroom three or more times per day, despite most not having formal music training.


While NIEER’s survey of parents identified a drop in young children singing and engaging in music activities early in the COVID-19 pandemic, that rebounded to pre-pandemic levels by fall of 2020. Further benefits of music for young children are explored in the post: Read it here.


What Childcare Arrangements do Parents Want during Nontraditional Hours?


Nearly one-third of children under age 6 in families with working parents live with parents who work nontraditional hours (i.e., before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on weekdays, or on weekends). To understand the care needs of these families, researchers at the Urban Institute analyzed survey data and interviewed parents working nontraditional hours in two states and D.C. The report, What Childcare Arrangements do Parents Want during Nontraditional Hours?, was released this week.


They found many parents recommended care in the child’s home by relatives or friends for nontraditional hours; however, they found this type of care was not supported by publicly funded child care policies or practices.


They noted that “current child care policies often appear to assume that parents work traditional hours and regular schedules, and concepts of quality care are designed around what children need during daytime hours.”  Read the full report here, and a policy brief here.



Path 2 Play Facilitation: Understanding Teacher’s Play Facilitation in the Context of COVID-19’s Impact on Processes and Programs

NIEER’s Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores will co-present a paper on April 2 at a two-day special topic meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development: Learning Through Play and Imagination: Expanding Perspectives. The presentation is entitled: Path 2 Play facilitation: Understanding teacher’s play facilitation in the context of COVID-19’s impact on processes and programs. She will present with co-authors Carolina Maldonado-Carreño, Eduardo Escallón Lagarcha, and NIEER’s Senior co-Director Ellen Frede. Read the symposium abstract here.



Early Maternal Language Input and Classroom Instructional Quality In Relation To Children’s Literacy Trajectories from Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth Grade

Early childhood maternal language input indirectly impacted children’s literacy trajectories from pre-K through fifth grade via effects on child language at 36 months. No link was found between higher-quality classroom instruction and concurrent literacy skills from pre-K through fifth grade, a study found.

The study involved 1,292 children from low-income, rural communities. The findings “suggested the enduring importance of early maternal language input in predicting children’s early language and later literacy skill development during elementary school,” the authors wrote.

The study was written by Lynne Vernon-Feagans and Michael Willoughby of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Robert C. Carr, of Duke University in North Carolina; and Mary Bratsch-Hines of the University of Florida. Read the abstract here.

Early Childhood Educators’ Provision of Remote Learning During Covid-19

Researchers found that early childhood educators spent more time communicating with families and planning instruction than actually teaching young children in the spring of 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. They noted that more than half of the respondents of the nationally-distributed survey spent between one minute and one hour on instruction each day, while 43 percent reported spending two or more hours per day planning instruction or communicating with families.

The researchers concluded that while positive outcomes such as increased teacher familiarity with online platforms emerged during the pandemic, “it is imperative that we take action to support early childhood educators with structural supports, such as professional development, planning time, and digital curricula and tools to carry out high-quality instruction to all young children.” Read the full study here.

​​The Association between Persistent Low Parental Income during Preschool Age and Mental Disorder in Adolescence and Early Adulthood: A Norwegian Register-Based Study of Migrants and Non-Migrants

Children who experienced persistent low parental income during the preschool years were more likely to have mental health problems when they reached ages 16 to 25, as measured by the use of outpatient mental healthcare, researchers found.


“Social inequalities in health may begin early in childhood and impact mental health in both adolescence and adulthood,” the researchers wrote. “Such increased risk may further result in poorer ability to gain social capital and influence other aspects of life.”


The study was written by: Kamila Angelika Hynek, Lars Johan Hauge and Melanie Lindsay Straiton of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; Dawit Shawel Abebe of Oslo Metropolitan University; Anna-Clara Hollander of Karolinska Institute in Sweden; and Aart C. Liefbroer of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute. Read it here.



Early Childhood Education Participation: A Mixed-Methods Study of Parent and Provider Perceived Barriers and Facilitators

Costs of early childhood education and care (ECEC) are barriers to participation, while the promotion of child benefits and staff training may facilitate participation, researchers in Australia found.


The study used online questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with parents and service providers. Researchers determined four paths to increasing participation: reducing fees parents must pay, including indirect costs such as travel; increasing flexibility in program formatting to coordinate with parents’ responsibilities; promoting the benefits of play-based learning in ECEC settings; and working to change attitudes regarding maternal roles and child readiness for participation.


The study was conducted by Ruth Beatson, Carly Molloy, Zoe Fehlberg, and Sharon Goldfeld of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute & Royal Children’s Hospital; Nicholas Perini of Social Ventures Australia; and Christopher Harrop of Bain & Company. Read it here.


Meeting the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years is Associated with Better Social-Emotional Development in Preschool Boys

Just 8 percent of young children in Australia meet all three guidelines for healthy behaviors as outlined in the Australian ‘24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years,’ researchers concluded.


Meeting all three guidelines, which focus on screen time, sleep and physical activity, was associated with better social-emotional development for males, but that was not the case for females, according to researchers.


The study was conducted by: Hayley Christian, Kevin Murray, Georgina Trapp, Clover Maitland, and Mark Divitini of the University of Western Australia; Stewart G. Trost of the University of Queensland; and Jasper Schipperijn of the University of Southern Denmark. Read it here.